hi·​a·​tus | \ hī-ˈā-təs How to pronounce hiatus (audio) \

Definition of hiatus

1a : a break in or as if in a material object : gap the weedy hiatus between the town and the railroad— Willa Cather the hiatus between the theory and the practice of the party— J. G. Colton
b biology : a gap or passage in an anatomical part or organ
2a : an interruption in time or continuity : break especially : a period when something (such as a program or activity) is suspended or interrupted after a 5-year hiatus from writing a summer hiatus
b : the occurrence of two vowel sounds without pause or intervening consonantal sound

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Did you know?

Hiatus comes from hiare, a Latin verb meaning "to gape" or "to yawn," and first appeared in English in the middle of the 16th century. Originally, the word referred to a gap or opening in something, such as a cave opening in a cliff. In the 18th century, British novelist Laurence Sterne used the word humorously in his novel Tristram Shandy, writing of "the hiatus in Phutatorius's breeches." These days, hiatus is usually used in a temporal sense to refer to a pause or interruption (as in a song), or a period during which an activity is temporarily suspended (such as a hiatus from teaching).

Examples of hiatus in a Sentence

The band is making an album again after a five-year hiatus. steam was rising from an hiatus in the ground
Recent Examples on the Web The seventh Real Housewives franchise series returned to Peacock for a fourth season in 2021 after an eight-year hiatus. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, 16 May 2022 German sports car specialists Wiesmann has returned from an eight-year hiatus with its first EV. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 27 Apr. 2022 Towing is back: After an 18-month pandemic hiatus, Los Angeles will resume towing of campers and RVs next month. Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2022 As expected, fans can hardly contain their excitement, both for the fact that the show is finally returning after an unexpected hiatus, but also to see how Bridget’s eye navigates the storyline. Rebecca Norris, Country Living, 1 Apr. 2022 After an unplanned hiatus in 2020, the second year of Marvel’s MCU Phase 4 adventures has finally begun. Chris Smith, BGR, 31 Mar. 2022 Then the pandemic hit, putting them back on an indefinite hiatus. Morena Duwe, Rolling Stone, 12 Mar. 2022 The Huskies also had an 18-day hiatus in play due to COVID-19 and played a grueling stretch of nine games in 27 days. Shreyas Laddha, courant.com, 12 Mar. 2022 The Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague, which is on an indefinite hiatus amid the Russian invasion, granted him a letter of clearance. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hiatus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hiatus

1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hiatus

Latin, from hiare to yawn — more at yawn

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hiatal hernia



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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hiatus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hiatus. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hiatus


hi·​a·​tus | \ hī-ˈāt-əs How to pronounce hiatus (audio) \

Medical Definition of hiatus

: a gap or passage through an anatomical part or organ especially : an opening through which another part or organ passes (such as the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus and vagus nerves pass)

More from Merriam-Webster on hiatus

Nglish: Translation of hiatus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hiatus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hiatus


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